The San Siro was an emotional place to be on Saturday night, as Inter Milan bid goodbye to club legend and stalwart Javier Zanetti after 19 years with the club.
On a night where there were tears and tributes aplenty, Inter gave him the perfect swansong with a convincing 4-1 triumph over Lazio courtesy of a Rodrigo Palacio brace and further goals from Mauro Icardi and Hernanes.
Zanetti could still feature for Argentina in the 2014 World Cup prior to his summer retirement, and will harbour dreams of bowing out with the biggest prize of them all.
At Inter he has served as their captain since 1999, and won every gong going during his time at the club including the Uefa Champions League in 2010 where he played under now Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
He has five Scudetto titles to add to that, whilst also winning the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana four times as well.
The Argentinean also lifted the old Uefa Cup the season before he was given the role of captain, and raised the Fifa Club World Cup just months after the famous evening under Mourinho’s stewardship.
Zanetti started his last home game for the club from the bench but replaced Brazilian right-back Jonathan in the 52nd minute to the most poignant and raucous of receptions.
He appeared to the European theme of ‘final countdown,’ and donned an armband sporting the name of every single player to ever play alongside him during his 19 years with the Nerazzuri.
A tearful and visibly upset young fan reached his idol and exchanged a brief hug, before being escorted away by security during the dying embers of injury time.
The defender and his family took to the field at the end of the game, waving to the adoring fans inside the stadium, with Zanetti himself unable to stop the tears rolling down his face when giving his farewell speech.
“Thank you everyone, you have no idea how emotional this moment is. To say you are all fantastic is not enough," he is quoted as saying on Goal.com.
“I want to thank everyone who has been close to me at any moment. I want to thank my wife Paula and the wonderful family we have raised together.
“I am happy for this wonderful career wearing this jersey which I truly love.”
Zanetti’s team-mates all wore special tribute jackets, and hoisted their captain into the air after he was subjected a moving montage of all his greatest moments.
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